Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 2 – Into the Valley of Death

Over 16 missions, Joe & Andrew will battle through the full campaign – each trying to secure victory in a desperate fight for control of Fortress Budapest.


After the thrilling Soviet victory in Game 1, Joe pressed the attack into Game 2. Will Andrew’s Hungarian defenders have better luck holding back the Red Tide? The players headed to the always lovely Michigan Toy Solider to find out with Game 2 – Into the Valley of Death!

The second mission once again tasked a Hungarian defense force with holding back the Soviet assault. But, unlike Game 1, this mission was be played between two Armored Platoons using the Tank War structure. Both players followed specific Theater Selectors from Campaign: Fortress Budapest; Guards Mechanized Brigade (p.152) for Joe and Hungarian Assault Artillery Battery (p.144) for Andrew. The mission did not specify a point value, our Commanders settled on 1,500pts for the game.

Before Deployment, Joe placed the three Objectives in the Hungarian Deployment Zone, at least 12″ apart from each other. For the Soviets to win, Joe needed to hold two Objectives. If both the Soviets and Hungarians held one Objective, the game ends in a draw. Any other result would be a Hungarian victory. Kills did not count for VPs, only the Objectives. The game would last a full six turns with a possible seventh.

The Pre-Game

The Hungarian Strategy

With the Soviet capture of Ojtozi Pass my stoic defenders were forced to fall back to the village of Sosfurdo. After deploying for another defense, Joe’s Soviet armor was spotted across the battlefield. But unlike the previous battle, this time I was prepared to effectively engage whatever threat Joe could bring to bear. The Hungarian Assault Artillery Battery is a great, if not limited, tank platoon that I was excited to command. Plus, I got to upgrade one of my Vet. 43M Zrinyi II Assault Guns to the Hungarian Tank Ave Ensign Janos Bozsoki. In all my years playing Bolt Action, this was the first time I’d ever played a game using a special character. I hoped Bozsoki’s special rules would lead to an early tank kill, or at least force Joe to pump the brakes on what would certainly prove to be a deadly armored thrust.

I deployed using as much cover as possible, within woods and inside of the two buildings. With my three Zrinyi II Assault Guns in Ambush and rest of the force Hidden, there was nothing left to do but wait. – Andrew

The Soviet Strategy

With the taking of the Ojtozi Pass, the STAVKA order the glorious Red Army forward to capitalize on what they hoped would be a breakthrough into the heart of Hungary using lend-lease tanks to drive out the fascist dogs and take Budapest! The plan was simple. Put one Objective on each side of the lone road and one in a far corner to try and spread out the hated Hungarian defenders. I would deploy the five Shermans roughly equally apart so they could both support each other and collapse on a flank easier than if they clumped in one area. The infantry would rush through any openings the tanks created and the Zis-3 was there for basic fire support, as I figured the divisional could be good against buildings or tanks. – Joe

The Game

  • Andrew deployed his entire force within 12″ of the Hungarian long table edge. The majority of the units also deployed Hidden (the grey tokens).
    • Each of the two buildings contained two units. The Forward Artillery Observer (top floor) and Vet. Pioneers (bottom floor) in one and the AT Rifle Team (top floor) and Vet. Honved Division Section (bottom floor). Each of the two infantry units had two Panzerfausts.
    • The Heavy AT Gun nestled between two buildings locked down a line of fire down the right flank.
    • One 43M Zrinyi II on the right flank coved Objective 3, the second on the left, hull down in the trees, and a third behind a building overlooking Objective 1. Because Ensign Janos Bozsoki commanded one of Zrinyi II Assault Guns, thus all three could start the game already in Ambush.
    • Finally, the lone Hetzer deployed as the anchor of the left flank.
  • The entirety of Joe’s force would arrive via First Wave during Turn 1.
  • The Soviets arrive! Joe brought on his entire force, directly into the face of the waiting Hungarian guns. Lend-Lease Sherman 75mm cannons blasted toward the defenders with no effect.
  • A Truck with Zis-3 in tow arrived on the left flank, allowing the Zis-3 to unlimber and setup behind cover.
  • Two more Trucks arrived behind the woods on the right flank. Each with infantry aboard.
  • The Hungarian HEAT rounds attempted to stop the Soviet armor and managed to score a couple hits but were unable to penetrate the armor of the Shermans.
  • At the end of the Turn, an Artillery Barrage was called in with hopes of arriving at the top of Turn 2.
Soviet KillsHungarian Kills
00
  • The Artillery Barrage arrived but scattered failed to cause any damage – just a single Pin on a Truck and two Shermans.
  • The Hetzer once again hit its target but, again, failed to cause damage.
  • The Soviet Command Sherman advanced into the woods and fired at the lone Zrinyi II who had also moved up, hitting and destroying the Hungarian Assault Gun. First blood to the Soviets!
  • Not to be outdone, a second Sherman advanced up around the woods, fired at the Heavy AT Gun, and killed three of the four crew with its 2″ HE. The lone artilleryman passed his Morale Check and held.
Soviet KillsHungarian Kills
10
  • Shockingly, not a single kill in Turn 3.
  • The Soviets continued to push up on the right flank but failed to cause any hits against the Hungarians. However, Objective 3 was now entirely undefended.
Soviet KillsHungarian Kills
10
  • Lots of action in Turn 4 – the Hungarian Zrinyi II in the village hit and immobilized the Sherman on the deep left flank.
  • The Heavy AT Gun missed its shot (the additional -1 To Hit for one remaining crew came into play) and was subsequently blown to bits by a Soviet tank.
  • The Hetzer, pinned but still fighting hit the same Soviet Lend-Lease Sherman for the third time! However, unlike the previous two hits, this time the Heavy AT round made it through the armor and knocked out the target. The first kill for the Hungarians was a big one as now the left flank was secured.
Soviet KillsHungarian Kills
21
  • Major maneuvers by the Soviets on the right flank. One of the Trucks advanced, the Infantry Squad aboard disembarked and secured Objective 3. The second Truck moved around the rocks and into position to assault Objective 2.
  • Ensign Janos Bozsoki’s Zrinyi II made a reverse move out of the woods and fired a long-range HEAT round at one of the two Shermans on the right flank, scoring a kill! The middle ground was now only pressured by a single Sherman.
  • With only Turn 6 guaranteed, the Soviet push was starting to falter.
Soviet KillsHungarian Kills
22
  • Before it had a chance to advance, the Hungarian AT Rifle fired and hit the Soviet Truck with two squads aboard. The +2 Pen was enough to knock out the Truck, forcing both squads aboard to bail out and go Down. This single shot ensured Hungarian control of Objective 2.
  • The lone Soviet Sherman in the middle of the table made a mad dash at Objective 1 and stopped just close enough to contest the Objective.
    • Four Hungarian units collapsed towards Objective 1 with one goal – destroy that Sherman.
    • Both Zrinyi II missed and the Hetzer bounced a shot off the armor, again.
    • Finally breaking from the cover of the building, the Assault Pioneers dive out and close to within Point Blank range of their target. They fire a volley of Panzerfausts, needing 3s to hit, and miss with both.
      • The Flamethrower operator also takes a shot, hits and forces the Sherman to take a Morale Test. This Sherman has taken severe punishment and must now pass a Morale Check on Morale 5 – Joe, always cool under pressure – passes the test with ease.
  • The roll at the end of Turn 6 did not advance the game into a Turn 7 and both Commanders stood back to evaluate the results of another tense, hard-fought battle.
Soviet KillsHungarian Kills
23

Objective 1 – Contested | Objective 2 – Hungarian Control | Objective 3 – Soviet Control

Final Result -Draw

The Post-Game

The Hungarian Conclusion

Well damn. I really thought I had the win there but, once again, a volley of two Panzerfauts was unable to destroy a Medium Tank. The trap was perfectly set and Joe drove right on in (not that he had much of a choice)! I needed 3s to hit. Threes! And missed with both. Oh well, the dice are fickle. Overall, I cannot complain. I had two late-game kills that made all the difference. Without my AT Rifle Team taking out the transport Truck, the game would have almost certainly ended in another Hungarian loss. I telling ya, AT Rifles are the GOAT. Bolt Action players need to recognize that his 39pt Vet unit is one of the best in the game. The mission started out ice cold for me. I hit the same Sherman three turns in a row and every time my AP shelled bounced right off that armor. I needed a 4 to glance the armor and just couldn’t roll above a 3. But again, I can’t complain. My AT was real hot towards the end and I was just able to hold off the Soviet onslaught. One of the biggest surprises for me was Joe’s Zis-3, it missed every single shot! I was concerned about that Soviet gun and it had zero impact on the game. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

This was our second Attacker/Defender mission in a row and unlike Game 1, this mission felt very standard. It was essentially Point Defense and that is often a frustrating mission to play. For the Attacker , the mission seems stacked against you and for the Defender, there isn’t much to do expect sit and wait. I am very much looking forward to the insanity that Game 3 will have in store. – Andrew

The Soviet Conclusion

The plan was working well at first. The 1st Guards Mechanized Brigade smashed the Hungarian right and was pivoting to catch them in a deadly crossfire. But it all went downhill from there. The fire of the Guards tankers started to ricochet off the Hungarian armor and then even worse, missed entirely. With time running out, and looking like a loss, Marshall Malinosky ordered an all-out attack. With the first three pulls on Turn 6, the Divisional Gun and two Shermans both failed to hit either the Hetzer or Ensign Bozsoki on the Hungarian left. Then a Truck was blown up, leaving the Infantry left stranded and Down. In a desperate final act, I threw my last Sherman right on top of Objective 1, hoping it would survive the remaining Hungarian attacks, thankfully it did and we ended in a Draw.

The mission itself was good, but not great. The Hidden Setup and Building advantages for the Defender were pretty big. Even with moving up fairly quickly I felt pressed for time. The lack of cover made me think twice a couple times about dismounting my Infantry. Also the ‘Forces’ section of the mission description made it seem like the Soviet player could only take 75mm M4A2s. We have since talked and decided the Soviets just can’t take a 76mm Sherman. The Honor of the Guards rule that removes D2 pins was cool, but didn’t come up often enough in the game to really make a difference. I think I only rolled a multi-pinned unit once, the rest were Rally orders. All in all I’m not sure I would play this mission again. It felt very generic and a bit uninspiring. – Joe

Soviet Campaign Game ScoreHungarian Campaign Game Score
1.50.5
Soviet Campaign KillsHungarian Campaign Kills
76

3 thoughts on “Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 2 – Into the Valley of Death

  1. Thanks for the AAR! I totally understand your negative review of the mission, because it shows one of the key weakness of BA: the limited opportunities within a six round game, where the attacker has to move, fight and secure multiple objectives. Maybe these kind of missions should at least last 8 rounds or maybe some other mechanics should be fixed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers! I think both Joe and myself were a bit surprised by how “standard” this mission felt. After being so impressed with Game 1, this was a surprise. However, Game 3 was another banger so hopefully Game 2 was the odd one out.

      Liked by 1 person

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